6 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Student Exchange Destination

6 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Student Exchange Destination

Studying abroad during a student exchange programme is an incredible experience, but choosing a destination can be a headache. Here’s how you can narrow it down.

Now that you’ve decided to go on a student exchange programme, the next question is: Where to go? It’s definitely not an easy decision, especially for those with a plethora of universities to pick from. Well, let’s just say that this is a good problem to have. Instead of staring at the map aimlessly, try asking yourself these six questions in order to shortlist the destinations most suitable for you:

1. How much money are you able or willing to spend?

Of course this should be the first question! Going on a student exchange isn’t cheap, and the cost of an average six-month study trip can range from SGD 10,000 (~USD 7,400) to SGD 20,000 (~USD 14,700). You should definitely set a budget in advance to make sure that you won’t end up spending more than what you are able or willing to afford!

But just because you don’t want to splurge doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun! For those who are looking for something more affordable, consider heading to destinations in Asia such as China and South Korea. Eastern Europe – comprising Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and more – is also an excellent region for those who are hoping to experience Europe without breaking the bank. Otherwise, while all your friends flock to Paris and Stockholm, you can consider destinations that are off-the-beaten-path such as Israel, Lebanon, Mongolia or even Botswana.

2. What are your interests?

Are you a city person or a country person? Do you like bustling cities brimming with the hottest nightclubs and the swankiest shopping malls? Or do you prefer vast rural landscapes and cosy remote cafés?

Remember, you’ll be spending six months or even an entire year in this particular destination, so it’s really important that you choose a place that caters to what you like. Those who enjoy being in the midst of activity should opt for capital cities, which are usually always buzzing with energy, whereas those who are seeking a tranquil experience should look at the suburbs.

I’ve met people who realise belatedly that the places they’ve chosen to go do not suit them at all, so don’t make the same mistakes as they did!

3. How often do you plan to travel?

To many students, going on an exchange means lots of travel opportunities! After all, it’s not every day that you get to live in a completely different country and be within close proximity to so many unexplored territories. Depending on the individual’s budget and interests, some people might choose to travel more – every weekend, even – while some might not travel as often.

If you’re planning to travel a lot, you should definitely try to choose a city/town that is near an airport! If not, you might end up having to take a three-hour train JUST to get to the airport every time you want to leave the country, which is not only time-consuming but also a waste of money!

4. Can you get used to extreme temperatures?

You love the snow, but can you get used to the gloomy winter nights and sub-zero temperatures? And if you love the sun, can you stand the sweltering heat and the relentless humidity?

Of course, not all countries have such extreme weather conditions and temperatures, so do your research well (and know yourself well) before you decide on your study abroad destination! If you’re afraid of the cold, maybe you should avoid Northern Europe and Canada during a winter exchange. And if you’re not a fan of the heat, you might not enjoy spending six months in countries that are near the equator.

5. How well can you cook?

It might come as a shock to some, but eating out can be really expensive in some countries. The truth is, not all countries have affordable street stalls and food centres! In Sweden, a simple meal from McDonald’s costs at least SGD 11 (~USD 8), and that’s already too expensive for broke exchange students (like me).

The exorbitant prices left me with no choice but to cook my own food. While my culinary skills are nothing to flaunt about, at least I didn’t have to go hungry. All thanks to my mother who taught me how to cook! But if you’re not confident in your culinary abilities, you should definitely choose a place where eating out is not as expensive.

6. Can you speak the language?

Even though the English language is now the lingua franca of the world, many countries still remain attached to their native languages. So you might like to keep this in mind and choose somewhere that is more manageable for you!

If not, you can always learn some basic foreign conversational phrases and sentences while overseas! After all, isn’t this what an exchange is all about?

So, have you decided on your student exchange destination yet? Well, no matter where you choose, I assure you that you’ll still end up having the time of your life anyway! Have fun!

About Author

Ziyue Guo
Ziyue Guo

Ziyue has her heart set on exploring the world. She is enthralled by the beauty of people and nature, and is always looking forward to her next adventure. She adores fat bunnies and can never resist anything with matcha. When she’s not busy stuffing her face with cakes, Ziyue enjoys snuggling up with a cup of hot tea and a good book on a rainy day.


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